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Poland holds presidential poll

Poles vote on Sunday in an election forced by the air-crash death of conservative president Lech Kaczynski, with his identical twin bidding to replace him but trailing the ruling liberals` candidate.



Warsaw: Poles vote on Sunday in an election forced by the air-crash death of conservative president Lech Kaczynski, with his identical twin bidding to replace him but trailing the ruling liberals` candidate.

Voting in the nation of 38 million runs from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm (0400 GMT to 1800 GMT) on Sunday.

Surveys show it is a two-horse race between ex-prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, 61, eurosceptic leader of the twins` Law and Justice party, and Bronislaw Komorowski, 58, of the governing, market-friendly Civic Platform.

A Kaczynski win would help Law and Justice to keep holding up Civic Platform legislation by threatening presidential vetoes.

Victory for Komorowski, a close ally of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, would free up a policy logjam and boost Civic Platform before parliamentary elections in late 2011.

Komorowski could take 41-51 percent of the vote, to Kaczynski`s 29-35 percent, surveys show. The other eight candidates lag far behind.

If no one scores over 50 percent, a run-off between the top two is due on July 4, with Komorowski the likely victor, polls indicate.

Lech Kaczynski died on April 10 with 95 other Poles, including his wife Maria, senior aides, lawmakers and military top brass.

Their government plane crashed in Smolensk, western Russia, as it landed for a 70th anniversary ceremony for a World War II Soviet massacre of thousands of Polish officers in the nearby Katyn forest.

Then, in late May and earlier this month, Poland was hit by floods that killed 24 people and forced thousands from their homes.

Both events have overshadowed the election.

Under the constitution, parliamentary speaker Komorowski became acting president after the crash.

He was already due to fight Lech Kaczynski`s bid for a second five-year term in an autumn election, and was tipped to win.

Despite shared roots in Solidarity, the opposition movement that drove Poland`s communist regime from power peacefully in 1989, Civic Platform and Law and Justice are bitter rivals.

They have been at loggerheads since 2005, when Lech Kaczynski beat Tusk in a tough presidential race.

In a unique political duo, Jaroslaw Kaczynski was his brother`s premier in 2006-2007, a period marked by regular clashes between the twins and fellow European Union leaders, plus bitter battles at home.

Law and Justice lost the 2007 general election to Civic Platform.

Forced to work with Tusk, Lech Kaczynski did his best to block laws.

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With an eye on his party`s core voters -- older, small-town dwellers, in contrast with younger, urban Civic Platform supporters -- he was wary of Tusk`s drive to reform welfare and privatise more state firms.

Tusk, who underscores that Poland has bucked the global economic slump on his watch, has mended fences in the EU, which the country joined in 2004.

Bureau Report

From Zee News

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